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Friday May 19, 2006Barton?s Two-Run Walk-Off Homer Powers Baseball Past LSU, 8-7

Gainesville, FL

Senior Stephen Barton (Miami, Fla.) blasted a dramatic two-out, two-run homer in the bottom of the 10th inning to lift Florida (27-28/9-20 SEC) to an 8-7 victory over LSU (34-21/13-16 SEC) on Friday night at McKethan Stadium. After the Tigers grabbed a 7-6 lead in the top of the frame, the Gators were down to their last out before senior Chris Woods (Gainesville, Fla.) laced a single into left field to keep the frame alive.


Facing a 3-1 count from senior Will Harris, Barton smashed the offering over the right-field fence to help UF even the series and prevent the Bayou Bengals from clinching a berth in next week’s Southeastern Conference Tournament. It was the second round-tripper of the year for Barton, who made a winner of senior Darren O’Day (Jacksonville, Fla.), who improved to 3-2. After collecting a save in the series opener, Harris dropped to 1-2. The teams will play the rubber game of the series tomorrow at 4 p.m. The contest, to be aired live as the SEC Game of the Week, will be preceded by Senior Day festivities.


Trailing 6-4 and down to its final out, LSU rallied for two runs in the ninth to tie the score at 6-6. Sophomore Michael Hollander delivered a one-out single, prompting a Florida pitching change. O’Day took over on the hill for sophomore Josh Edmondson (LaGrange, Ga.) (2.1, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER) and walked freshman J.T. Wise. With Hollander on second and freshman pinch runner Chris McGhee at first, O’Day whiffed senior slugger Quinn Stewart for the second out. An error on senior Matt Liuzza’s grounder allowed Hollander to score and junior Steven Waguespack knotted the game at six runs apiece with a bullet up the middle.


Freshman Jarred Bogany began the 10th with a hard liner off junior shortstop Adam Davis (Fort Myers, Fla.) that bounced into the outfield, resulting in the runner at second. A fly ball to center by Harris nudged Bogany to third and senior Bruce Sprowl poked a single through the drawn-in infield to put the Tigers on top, 7-6. 


LSU had jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning against senior Bryan Ball (Punta Gorda, Fla.) by sending nine batters to the plate. Sprowl opened the game with a single into right field and moved into scoring position on a one-out base-knock by Wise. A fielding error on Stewart’s grounder loaded the bases and senior Matt Liuzza punched an RBI single into right field to bring across Sprowl. Waguespack earned a free pass from Ball to score Wise before the right-hander responded with a strikeout of sophomore Jordan Mayer. Ball plunked Bogany, bringing home Stewart, to give the Tigers a 3-0 advantage and then stranded the runners by having Harris ground out. 


The Gators answered with a run of their own in the bottom of the inning, courtesy of an RBI single by junior Matt LaPorta (Port Charlotte, Fla.). Davis started things off with an infield hit and advanced on a balk by junior Clay Dirks. LaPorta grooved a 2-0 pitch through the left side to pick up his 37th RBI. Hollander belted a solo homer with two down in the fourth to give LSU a 4-1 lead. The dinger was his fifth of the campaign and landed in the left-field bleachers.


Florida exploded for four-straight hits in the fifth and evened the contest at 4-4. Davis and junior Brian Jeroloman (Wellington, Fla.) began the stanza with consecutive singles, giving the Gators runners on the corners with none out. LaPorta collected his second RBI of the contest with a double down the left-field line to narrow the gap to 4-2 and junior Gavin Dickey (Tallahassee, Fla.) sliced a run-scoring single into left to put the hosts’ third run on the board. Soon after, a fielder’s choice by junior David Cash (Odessa, Fla.) plated LaPorta with the tying run. Cash moved into scoring position with his third theft of the year and McArthur drew a two-out walk before Dirks uncorked a wild pitch to push Cash to third. The southpaw caught junior Chris Petrie (Jacksonville, Fla.) looking on strikes to keep the contest tied.


Ball walked Wise to begin the seventh and was replaced by Edmondson. In his 55th career start, matching Marc Valdes (1991-93) atop Florida’s career list, Ball allowed six hits and four runs (three earned) in six-plus innings. The right-hander totaled three strikeouts, issued three walks and hit two batters. Edmondson did his part by setting down the first three Tigers he faced.


Florida moved in front on Jeroloman’s fourth sacrifice fly of the season in the home part of the seventh. Barton deposited a leadoff double in between a pair of outfielders and Davis legged out a bunt for runners on the corners. Jeroloman lofted a sac fly to right to give the Gators a 5-4 lead and end the evening for Dirks (6.1 IP, 9 H, 5 R, 6 K, 1 BB). LaPorta tallied his third hit with a single into left off junior Jonathan Wilhite but the reliever induced an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play by Dickey.


A two-out chopper by Woods in the eighth off junior Daniel Forrer scored Cash from second base, resulting in a 6-4 lead for the Gators. Cash had led off with a four-pitch walk from Wilhite (0.2 IP, 1 H, 1 R), who was lifted in favor of Forrer. Sophomore Bryson Barber (Pensacola, Fla.) laid down a sacrifice bunt to push Cash to second and Woods’ hustle and head-first slide at first not only beat the throw, but enabled his teammate to cross the dish. Barton extended the inning with a base-hit past diving Tiger first baseman Mayer, advancing Woods to third. Forrer had Davis ground out to hold LSU’s deficit at two runs.   


Florida held a 15-11 edge in hits, led by a season-best four hits from LaPorta (4-for-5, two RBI). Davis collected three hits for the second-straight game and was 3-for-5 with two runs and the hero Barton was 3-for-5 with two RBI and a couple of runs. Four different Tigers collected two hits.





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